The situation in Chad remained highly volatile during 2008 as the conflict with Sudan escalated. The African Union attempted to make peace between the two countries, without success. In early August, the Libyan government helped to broker an agreement between the two governments, and in October 2008 representatives from Chad and Sudan met in Tripoli to formally restore diplomatic ties between their nations. In November, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for the number of international troops deployed in eastern Chad to be doubled. UN peacekeepers are expected to replace the EU force in March 2009 – with 6,000 troops replacing the 3,700 currently there. The Chadian government has said that it does not need any more troops however.
The humanitarian impact of the conflict is severe. Human Rights Watch estimates that there are more than 400,000 civilians living in refugee and IDP (internally displaced people) camps along Chad's eastern border. Refugees from Sudan are mostly Zaghawa and other small ethnic groups, who are escaping attack in Darfur. There have also been thousands of house demolitions in Chad's capital, N'Djamena. IRIN reported in January 2009 that 10,000-15,000 homes have been destroyed, with the government claiming it was because they were built on government-owned land. Observers suggested that it was an attempt to wipe out rebel households in the city.
Many of the barriers facing children in accessing education are associated with, or created by, the conflict. Human Rights Watch reported that 'the use and recruitment of child soldiers by government forces and allied para-military groups is ongoing'. UNICEF also reported on the thousands of Sudanese refugee children living in 12 camps in eastern Chad who are struggling to access education. According to October 2008 reports, UNICEF's work in the camps allowed 75,000 children to attend school in the first half of 2008, but many more are still missing out, especially at the post-primary level due to insufficient funding and teachers.
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